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Libraries, digitisation and disability

Nicholas Joint (Editor, Library Review)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 March 2006



To point out the limitations of recent legislation designed to enhance digital library service provision to the disabled and, in general, to point out the impact of observing moral rights on the feasibility of larger‐scale digitisation services in libraries.


A simple, summary analysis of the legislation combined with brief observations of library practice.


That the law needs to be extended in important respects to help larger sections of the disabled community in Higher Education, and that quality control issues, as enforced by consideration of our legal obligations under moral rights legislation, will always restrict the level of digital service libraries can offer to readers who need either accessible or digitised texts.

Research limitations/implications

This practice‐based supposition will be tested more extensively by investigation of the relevant legal and operational issues through practitioner experience.

Practical implications

Suggests that the library profession should lobby to improve legislation for services to the reading impaired, and that, in terms of on demand digitisation, general, all‐purpose digital short loan collections can only offer a limited spin‐off service to disabled users. Digitisation for reading and visual impairment will continue to have specialist features that make it a specialist activity.


The paper describes how copyright and moral rights are quite separate, distinct issues affecting library digitisation activity, and that it is easy to overlook the arguably more pronounced limiting effect of moral rights (as opposed to pure copyright) legislation on digitisation services to disabled users.



Joint, N. (2006), "Libraries, digitisation and disability", Library Review, Vol. 55 No. 3, pp. 168-172.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited